Debate on Calvinistic Compatibilism Part 7: Derek Responds

Matt,

Thank you for your response.

Part of the problem here is that we are speaking two very different philosophical languages. We embrace opposing assumptions and presuppositions (although i would guess we fundamentally agree that Scripture is inerrant and Christ alone saves, by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone?).

Your arguments presuppose that freedom of will is incompatible with God’s pre-determinate counsel. If I agreed with this presupposition, I would find your arguments (and Robert’s) unassailable. However, do you have any argument to prove that this really is the case? Do you have a Biblical argument to prove this?

My presupposition is that God’s all-determining will, eternal decree, and continuous providential action are not at all incompatible with creaturely freedom of will. I see God’s decree clearly taught in Scripture, so I cannot take that away without a total change of heart in terms of the exegesis. On the other hand, I live in a world in which I experience every moment the liberty of my choices. Uncoerced, unconstrained, and apparently including the ability to choose otherwise than I do. But alas, which am I to believe? God’s Holy Word or my undeniable experience?

But wait! Another aspect of my experience has been my absolute and unquenchable rebellion. Only God’s sovereign grace could ever have changed my heart and altered my course. And yet by His grace I did not find myself constrained or forced to believe. I chose it freely; yet I could (and would) only choose it by sovereign, irresistible grace.

But then again, God’s Word commands me to choose and holds me responsible for the choices I make. It nevertheless says I can have no good thing (faith and repentance included) unless God grants it to me by His mercy.

So now I have God’s Word on both sides, and my experience on both sides. What can I do but hold on to both of them? I can’t explain how God sovereignly ordains all things and yet keeps me free to choose in ways that render me morally responsible, unconstrained, voluntarily motivated, and apparently not without other options.

So I find myself embracing compatibilism — the belief that there can be a pre-determination of everything by an incomprehensible God without any diminishment of natural human freedom and responsibility. A million “rational” arguments against it won’t change my understanding of God’s Word or my experiences.

To me, these matters are a great mystery. I view God’s sovereign decree and my freedom as much more complex than a mere philosophical “seesaw,” which would entail that any gain on one side necessarily results in a corresponding loss on the other. I conceive of my freedom as existing within and being upheld by His all-determining sovereignty.

So I don’t see how compatibilism can ever “collapse” into mere determinism. It involves determinism, yes, certainly. But if you define determinism in a way that automatically rules out the possibility of genuine freedom, I can only say that my compatibilism does not involvethat kind of determinism. I would actually join you in arguing against any determinism that rules out human freedom and responsibility. I would equally oppose any version of human freedom that rules out determinism. I refuse to close off these categories as if they are mutually exclusive, since there does not appear to be any compelling reason to do so from a Biblical, philosophical or experiential standpoint.

So you see, we may well be talking about different concepts but using the same words. Do you agree that this may be the case?

Do you think it is remotely possible that predestination and freedom are not mutually exclusive?

Blessings,
Derek

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About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.
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